Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Walt Before Mickey by Timothy Susanin

05.05.11 - D23 catches up with Timothy Susanin, the unlikely author who chronicled Walt Disney's early life in the new definitive biography, Walt Before Mickey.

  Young Walt Disney at an animator's desk in Kansas City.
Before taking a trip to Walt Disney World with his wife and family in 2004, Timothy Susanin wouldn't have considered himself much of a Disney fan let alone a candidate to write a biography about Walt Disney. "We went there for the kids and we ended up loving it," he recalls. Intrigued by the resort and in turn the man who dreamed up the idea for it, Susanin picked up Bob Thomas' Walt Disney: An American Original. "That biography is what got me hooked," he laughs. From there, he delved into just about anything written about Walt until he had soaked up all that was published. An investigative lawyer by trade, Susanin noticed there were some missing details about Walt's past in the years leading up to the first Mickey Mouse cartoon. Thus began his own search for Walt's missing decade and the rest is history, well, a very specific time in it. Walt Before Mickey transports you back in time, from 1919 to 1928, to meet the 17-year-old black-and-white version of Walt Disney who was just taking his first brush strokes at creating the wonderful world of Disney.

The idea was to come up with a timeline. "There was a whole decade there that I felt a need to put in order for myself," Susanin explains. He began searching through the trail of documents and details that Walt had left behind. From newspaper articles and interviews to correspondence, census records and obituaries, a life story began to take shape — not only of Walt's, but of those around him. "So the timeline turned into a chronology that turned into a draft that turned into a book," Susanin reveals. "I saw pictures of Walt with all these young kids and you wonder, 'Who are these people?' and 'Could they have ever imagined that they were at the start of this whole iconic saga?' I wanted to jump in and learn about the fun stuff in his glory years and focus on the Hollywood years. And then, as I joked with [Disney Legend] Dave Smith and a number of people, I got stuck in Kansas City."

     Walt's business card while he was in Kansas City.
One of the things Susanin noticed was that most of what had been written about Walt's early years began with Steamboat Willie. And if an author dared to go earlier into his past, it usually began with Laugh-O-Gram Films in Kansas City. "Laugh-O-Gram Films is always the headliner when they talk about his Kansas City years, or his career there anyways," Susanin points out. "That was the second of the two studios he had there." The first was called Kaycee Studios. And most people incorrectly think he started doing those first fairytales — Little Red Riding Hood and The Four Musicians Bremen — at Laugh-O-Gram, but he really animated those while he was at Kaycee Studios."

As a reader you really get a sense of what it was like to be right there with Walt and his animators during the experimental days of animation and the birth of Hollywood. "The book starts out with a flashback, and putting that aside, I try to stay in the moment," Susanin says. "So I'm not referencing Winnie the Pooh or Disneyland. I'm not breaking the image that I am creating there." From photos and interviews, Susanin connects historical quotes with vivid descriptions. Readers learn about Walt's trek to California through his own words and, based on newspaper articles, ads and photos, Susanin describes the surroundings in vivid detail. The book also provides a rare glimpse at Walt's early struggles and his perseverance to go back to the drawing board when things didn't work out. "I was struck at how many years went by before he did hit it big," Susanin says. "One presumes it was an overnight thing."

Walt and Roy, brothers with their whole life ahead of them


  1. Now people can watch all that they want to in a number of clicks.
    The first lesson is that life can be humorous and
    fun again when you make time to play. It is also
    time to start thinking about how you want your My - Space page to look for the holiday.

    Feel free to visit my blog post; going on This site

  2. This video post is truly wonderful, the noise feature and the picture feature of this tape
    post is really amazing.

    My blog post:
    Also see my site >

  3. Exercise can help to avoid menopause weight gain and
    reduce other risks including osteoporosis, heart disease, and
    arthritis. Even if your small business doesn't have some sort of refrigerator (a rarity today) you can choose vegetable and fruit that do not even require refrigeration. These tips are followed by every pregnant woman all around the world but remember whatever you do, you should first check with your gynecologist so that there is no complication in your pregnancy.

    Here is my website ...

  4. Thanks a lot for sharing this with all people you really know what
    you are talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also seek advice
    from my web site =). We will have a link exchange arrangement among us

    My web blog 1

  5. Hi, how's it going? I recently shared this blog with a friend, we'd a great laugh.

    my page; fitness tips of the day

  6. Far too many children become the victims of abuse, neglect, or abandonment and then sadly,
    often they become wards of the court who will eventually determine their
    fate. We realize that we don't need to listen to outside authorities; we are not guided by our internal authority. This secret Taoist soak will wash any lingering worries down the drain and give you a fabulous and fresh start.

    Here is my web-site; Latest Daily News

  7. No matter what level of your fitness, developing a proper fitness program will allow you to make improvements to
    your golf swing. The fitness vacation - Whenever vacation is referred to, most of would think enjoying tropical
    foods, sitting beside the pool, drinking, and partying all night.

    Smoking can affect your health and fitness since
    it affects all the bodily functions and damages vocal
    cords and skin.

    Also visit my blog post:

  8. For centuries, man has been exploiting biology to make food products such as bread, beer,
    wine, and cheese. The gels went through a trypsin digestion and then were
    analyzed by a MALDI-TOF-TOF mass spectrometer, which identified the proteins digested from the gels.
    What now awaits Zimbabwe - once Africa's food basket.

    My web blog; 1

  9. The Butler Report ( is a world news summary
    website site which, in addition to headline news, publishes US and worldwide events not covered by mainstream media.

    World news often has news that is related to famous Hollywood celebrities or sports person or international socialites.

    They can also update news on their site as and
    when the event occurs while the newspapers have to wait until the next morning.

    my weblog:

  10. This study shows that progression of AIDS become rapid
    in the presence of negativity due to less social gathering and stress in life.
    That is why we have dedicated this page to help you renew your
    spirit and perhaps have a few laughs too. Music: My - Space is indeed the friend of music, but it has close ties with the independent artists, who make up for what they lack in record contracts and money by being My -
    Space-strong, building a strong fan base and creating loyal street teams, which then take on a lot of the
    advertising on the band's behalf.

    Feel free to visit my webpage:

  11. This information is invaluable. Where can one garner more

    My site ... fitness tips women

  12. Well, as we know world is changing day by day and its every single move in politics,
    business or even entertainment world affects our lives
    a lot. What is interesting is that you get to read
    news and analysis that give you an entirely different perspective, rarely seen in
    corporate-sponsored media. Above all the Hindi news websites is a real boom for the world.

    Feel free to visit my web page; latest world news

  13. Most of you hunger to know more about the glitzy life styles of glamorous celebrities and sensual models.
    Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan had a rough battle, when the movies related to them were released at the same time.
    She married singer Mark Anthony in2005 and released her next
    album called Rebirth.

    my page; latest celeb news

  14. You will find the most updated news being uploaded or published in blogs and celeb news sites.
    However there are several troubleshooting steps you need to perform in order to determine the problem.
    The singer will not be charged for her public intoxication, but her boyfriend was charged a $30,000 bail fee to release himself after he was tested positive for driving under the influence.

    Also visit my blog: latest celeb news


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...